A Johannesburg security company has been ordered to pay R1.68 million damages to the widow of a Kempton Park businessman who was kidnapped from his office and murdered by a security manager at the building.
Daleen van Staden sued Stallion Security for her loss of support after her husband, Deon van Staden, a financial manager at Bidvest Panalpina Logistics, in Isando, was in November 2014 robbed, kidnapped and murdered by Ronald Khumalo, who was Stallion’s site manager at his office.
Khumalo was tried and convicted for Van Staden’s murder, but escaped from prison and was presumed deceased.
Khumalo was on sick leave the day of the murder, but gained entrance through an emergency exit before moving to the first floor where Van Staden was working late. He used his bypass key to open the security doors and then confronted Van Staden with his revolver and demanded cash from him.
When Van Staden told him he had no access to cash, Khumalo forced him to transfer R30 000 from his personal account to his own.
He then forced Van Staden to accompany him and they left through a different emergency door with Van Staden driving Khumalo’s car out of the parking lot. Khumalo forced Van Staden to stop on the highway near the East Gate shopping centre where he shot him dead.
Khumalo, who was described as an excellent employee, had developed a health problem about a month before the murder when a growth appeared on his face. He became slovenly, started coming late for work and did not come to work at all the week before the murder.
Stallion maintained although they employed Khumalo, he did not commit the crimes while performing duties but was acting in pursuit of his own interests.
Acting Judge J F Brand ruled in the High Court in Pretoria that Khumalo’s employment with Stallion created the risk and gave Khumalo the opportunity to murder Van Staden.
The Judge said Stallion could, therefore, be held vicariously liable for Mrs Van Staden’s loss of support resulting from the murder committed by its employee.